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Person-Centred Approaches podcast transcript

This is a short podcast on behalf of the West Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board. I will be talking to you about person-centred approaches, protected characteristics, discriminatory factors and health & social inequalities; what these are, how you can improve your practice and how to access further reading and guidance. So firstly, what is a person-centred approach?

This approach moves away from professionals deciding what is best for an Adult, by making them central to the planning of their care and support. In practice this means putting the Adult with care and support needs at the heart of any process or decision, to make sure we fully understand and respond the best way possible to their support needs and goals. This practice must consider protected characteristics and how these may impact the Adult’s care and, their views and wishes.

So, what are protected characteristics?

The characteristics are specific aspects of an Adults identity defined by the Equality Act. So, there’s age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. 'Protection' means protection, by law, from any discrimination based on these characteristics is against the law. It is, of course, critical that our practice does not purposely or unwittingly discriminate against anyone because of these characteristics.

So, what does discrimination mean?

Discrimination can be:

Direct. This is when an Adult is discriminated against based on the grounds of a protected characteristic and treated differently to another Adult in similar circumstances.

It can be by association, which is when an Adult is treated less favourably because they are linked, or associated, with someone who has a protected characteristic.

It can also be by perception, which is when a person is discriminated against because they are thought to have a particular protected characteristic or, are treated as if they do.

And, it can be indirect. This is when a condition or requirement is applied equally to everyone and in doing so, excludes an Adult because they are unable to comply because of a protected characteristic.

The Equality Act places a duty on health and social care workers to consider the diverse needs of Adults we are working with, minimising disadvantage and ensuring the inclusion of under-represented groups.

This is why anti-discriminatory practice is essential in ensuring that practices recognise and adapt to the diverse needs of individuals, seeking to reduce or eliminate discrimination and to remove barriers that may prevent people from accessing services. Here are some tips to minimise discrimination in practice:

  • Respect diversity, by providing person-centred support.
  • Treat Adults as unique by understanding their differences.
  • Provide advice, information and support in a way which is best for the Adult and based on their particular needs and preferences.
  • Work in a professional, non-judgemental way. Do not stereotype or allow your own beliefs to affect your practice.
  • Refuse to initiate, participate, collude with or condone discrimination and harassment.
  • Proactively challenge and address discriminatory behaviours and practice.
  • Use supervision to reflect on protected characteristics for the adults you work with to identify any issues and unintended practice bias or discrimination.

Health and social care inequalities can lead to unequal access and experience of health or social care support. This can occur because of where an Adult is born or lives, their job or income or, because of their age. Some examples which may lead to health and social care inequalities include the protected characteristics, socio-economic status and deprivation, such as being unemployed or on a low income or people living in deprived areas, vulnerable or hard to reach groups, such as Gypsy Roma and traveller communities, rough sleepers and homeless people, sex workers and people with learning disabilities or, because of geography such as urban, or rural locations.

Finally, it is very important to remember that during times of operational pressures and crisis, it is vital that you ‘think safeguarding’ and ensure that Making Safeguarding Personal principals are adhered to. At these times, we know incidents of abuse and neglect can rise so, it is pivotal that any concern is reported, online, in the usual way. If you have concerns about a decision, action or inaction, these can be managed by using our Escalation and Resolution Protocol.

Please have a look at our Board’s website to view the learning briefing which accompanies this podcast; it has some useful links to resources, further reading and podcasts and webinars. On our website you’ll also find useful links to all our published Reviews, safeguarding policies and procedures, information for professionals, and further podcasts.

Thank you for your time to listen to this podcast and we appreciate you moving forwards with us to ensure we make the best difference for those who we are supporting.

Last updated: 05 April 2022